Reviewed July 26, 2007 by Tong Zhang, Senior Editor
If you’re looking for an all around notebook that can replace your desktop computer, the Toshiba Satellite P200/P205 series has a lot to offer. This 17” notebook has plenty of power for productivity tasks and offers some advanced multimedia features including an optional internal $199 HD DVD drive. For just over a $1,000, you can get a P200 that has an Intel Core Duo processor (not the more current and faster Core 2 Duo), a gig of RAM, a 160 gig hard drive, a SuperMulti DVD optical drive and a glassy, bright display. That’s a bit cheaper than the HP Pavilion dv9000t 17” notebook we reviewed, though the HP has better specs and is more multimedia-oriented. Build a P205 that matches HP’s specs, and the Toshiba is a just a bit pricier than the current Pavilion dv9500t (while still lacking the HP’s HDMI port and remote). Our review unit shipped with the standard dual layer DVD drive (with Labelflash upgrade), a 1.86GHz Intel Core Duo T2350, 2 gigs of DDR2 RAM, a 120 gig hard drive and WiFi 802.11a /g/n. It costs approximately $1,210.
Features at a Glance
As with many of today’s notebooks, Toshiba offers customizable Satellite P200/P205 models and quite a few pre-configured models. It offers a 17” widescreen TruBrite display in WXGA+ resolution, an Intel Core Duo or Core 2 Duo processor (up to 2GHz for both CPUs). You can choose a 64-bit or 32-bit system and up to 250GB hard drive, Intel integrated graphics or for some extra money you can get ATI dedicated graphics. The Toshiba comes with a DVD SuperMulti drive with Labelflash on most models and the afore mentioned HD-DVD drive is optional. The notebook also comes with a built-in web cam and a built-in microphone for Skype, Intel or Atheros WiFi, wired Ethernet, a modem and an ExpressCard/54 slot as well as a 5-in-1 card reader.
In the Box
We received the Toshiba Satellite P205-S6267 pre-configured model for this review. The package comes with the Toshiba Satellite notebook, AC adapter and power cord, Lithium Ion battery, warranty document, Quick Start/Quick Tour guide, Recovery CD and Windows Vista Home Premium and drivers CD, Labelflash CD and documents.
The Toshiba Satellite P200/P205 series ships with Windows Vista Home Premium (32-bit) and you can upgrade to other Vista versions, including Windows Vista Ultimate 64-bit for $149. For productivity, the Toshiba comes with Microsoft Works 8.0 which includes PIM tools like calendar, address book, database and the MS Office alternatives Word Processor, Spreadsheet and Portfolio. It also comes with trial versions of Microsoft Office Home and Student 2007 Edition. Toshiba included recovery software on DVD, Disc Creator, Bluetooth stack (even if the machine lacks Bluetooth hardware), DVD burning software by Ulead, Adobe Acrobat Reader 8.0 and InterVideo WinDVD 8. Toshiba offers speech software for configuring mic and for using voice commands.
Like many of today’s notebooks, the Toshiba also comes with way too much bloatware (trial software), including pre-loaded tool bars for Google and Yahoo, special offers and links to eBay, CNN, Skype, Napster, Yahoo Music, WildGame online games and more. The Toshiba comes with a 30-day subscription to McAfee Internet Security Suite, which constantly pesters you to register.
Design and Ergonomics
The Toshiba Satellite P205 is sleek in its Onyx Blue Metallic cover, which looks more like piano black under indoor lighting. We like the look, but the giant white TOSHIBA logo on the lid in 1” high letters (5.5” across) made us feel like a walking Toshiba ad. The keyboard and touch pad controls in silver contrast nicely with the shiny black plastic frame housing the dual speaker grills, AV controls and LED indicator lights in the front. The keyboard keys are flat across the top, creating the illusion of less travel (key travel is indeed normal for a full-sized notebook). The key locations are standard and we like the full-size right Shift key, unlike the small right Shift key found on the HP Pavilion. Since it’s a desktop replacement notebook, the keyboard feels roomy and there’s space for a number pad.
The Built-in Webcam and the built-in microphone sit on the bezel above the display, ready for web video calls and video conferencing. There is a wireless on/off switch on the front left of the notebook near the Satellite logo that illuminates in bright blue when the machine is on.
The battery lives on the back and there are two memory slots under the memory cover. The cooling vent on the left side is quiet even when the notebook is playing movies or games, though it does get hot near the vent. The optical drive is on the right and it’s a bit noisy when reading a disc.
Display and Multimedia
The large WXGA+ 17” TruBrite widescreen display is glossy, bright and color saturated. The TFT LCD display has 1440 x 900 native WXGA+ resolution and has native support for 720p (HDTV) video content. In fact the new Satellite P205 shares some tricks with Toshiba’s Qosmio AV notebook line that targets heavy multimedia users. The new Satellite P205-S6347 adds an HD DVD drive and Dolby Sound Room technology that includes Dolby Digital, Dolby Headphone and Dolby Virtual Speaker. The standard stereo speakers are a little tinny unfortunately, and when playing some DVDs the speakers didn’t have enough volume for average (not blasting) in-home listening. Opt for the $30 Harman/Kardon speaker upgrade for better sound. Sound through stereo headphones is excellent with full sound, good separation and very high volume. The Toshiba also features a built-in microphone for Skype users and online gamers.
Since the Toshiba we received has integrated graphics it’s not meant to be a killer gaming machine. Games that don’t require powerful discrete graphics like Rise of Nations II, The Sims 2 and the likes should play fine. Older games like the Empire Earth II runs but had minor to medium issues like slow downs and screen flashes. Battlefield 2 wouldn’t run on the Toshiba.
Like most notebooks on the market now, you can build a Toshiba P200/P205 notebook to your own designed specs. This series of notebook offer both Intel Core Duo and Intel Core 2 Duo with the fastest processor being the 2GHz T7200 with 4 MB L2 cache and a 667 MHz FSB. The Core 2 Duo CPUs are 64-bit systems that can run 32 bit and 64 bit versions of Vista. Toshiba offers an Intel Pentium dual-core T2080 base option on some models, but we don’t recommend it for performance reasons. Unfortunately for hardcore gamers, the base 17” notebook has only Mobile Intel 945GM shared graphics but you can choose from several graphics chipset options including the ATI Mobility Radeon HD 2400 with 128MB GDDR2 discrete memory and the ATI Mobility Radeon HD 2600 with 256 megs of DDR2 memory. There are two SDRAM slots with maximum capacity of 4 gigs total memory (PC2-5300 667MHz DDR2 RAM). Should you need a lot of storage space, you can opt for the beefy 200GB or 250 gig Serial ATA hard drive options, both of which are 4200 RPM, though lower capacity hard drives (80GB, 120GB and 160GB) are all 5400 RPM Serial ATA drives.
If you max out on all specs you’ll end up with a powerful machine that can handle heavy-duty applications like Photoshop, Dreamweaver, and serious gaming with the latest 3D titles. The base models are perfectly capable for MS Office work, playing DVDs and streaming video as well as light to moderate Photoshop work.
The Toshiba Satellite P205 comes with a DVD SuperMulti drive (+/- R double layer) with Labelflash. The SuperMulti drive can read and write data in all major optical formats including double layer media. Fuji Film makes the Labelflash media and it’s a bit harder to find than the LightScribe media used by HP, IBM and a few others. One up on the HP Pavilion, the Toshiba ships with recovery DVD, so you don’t have to manually make backup discs and there’s no “wasted” space for a recovery partition.
Vista’s Aero runs smoothly on the P205-S6267. Most games should run fine, but graphics intensive games will run with better (or require) dedicated graphics rather than integrated. Thankfully, the upgrade to the Radeon HD 2400 is only $75. The Windows Experience Index and PCMark benchmark numbers tell the same story. Here are the Toshiba Satellite P205-S6267 benchmark numbers in comparison to the HP Pavilion 9220us 17” notebook:
Windows Vista Experience Scores:
Toshiba Satellite P205-S6267 (Intel Core Duo 1.86GHz)
HP Pavilion 9220us (Intel Core 2 Duo 1.66GHz)
Gaming graphics: 3.1
Gaming graphics: 4.6
Hard disk: 4.5
Hard disk: 4.7
PCMark 05 Benchmark results:
Toshiba Satellite P205-S6267 (Intel Core Duo 1.86GHz)
HP Pavilion 9220us (Intel Core 2 Duo 1.66GHz)
PCMark05 score: 3180
PCMark05 score: 3913
Hard drive: 2158
Hard drive: 3623
Networking and Ports
The Toshiba Satellite notebook has an Intel Wireless WiFi Link 4965AGN (802.11a/g/n) adapter on most models (there is also Atheros 802.11a/b/g option on selected models). The Intel 4965 adapter performed well with long range and solid connections. There is a hardware switch on the front left of the notebook that allows you turn on and off the WiFi connection. Additional connectivity options include a modem port (right side of the notebook) and a 10/100 Ethernet jack (left side). The Toshiba’s ExpressCard slot is compatible with both ExpressCard/34 and ExpressCard/54 cards. There are four USB v2.0 ports, 2 on each side of the notebook and an FireWire IEEE-1394 port. Bluetooth is optional.
The optical drive lives on the right side of the notebook. Other AV ports include an S-video out, VGA port, volume control, S/PDIF out port, 3.5mm headphone jack, external microphone jack and a Consumer IR port. You will also find a 5-in-1 card reader that can read SD, Memory Stick, Memory Stick PRO, MMC and xD Picture cards. For security you will find a security lock on the left side of the Toshiba and on certain models you will get fingerprint scanner for biometric security.
The Toshiba Satellite P205 comes with a rechargeable Lithium-Ion battery that’s 4000mAh (10.8v) in capacity. Large notebooks such as 17” desktop replacement beasts don’t usually wow you on battery life; the Toshiba Satellite P205 is no exception. At high performance settings, the notebook lasted only an hour with Wi-Fi on while playing video over Internet. It lasted 1 hour and 20 minutes playing a DVD movie on the High performance setting before it hit the 10% battery remaining warning.
The Toshiba offers High performance, Power saver and Balanced power plans and you can create your own settings to fine tune the balance between performance and power conservation. The included 90W AC charger is a mid-sized notebook brick weighing .77 lbs., and it’s a world charger that takes input 100-240v.
An all around solid notebook, the Toshiba Satellite P205 is a worth a look for those who are looking for a basic, affordable desktop replacement system, though it doesn’t stand amongst major brand competitors (nor does it languish). The CPU is fast and runs most applications smoothly. There are plenty of ports for connectivity, large (though slow) hard drive options, and a DVD SuperMulti optical with HD DVD as an option. The 17” display is excellent, and you won’t miss the desktop monitor, though we do wish Toshiba offered a high res option as do HP and Dell. If you are a bleeding edge gamer, look at the Satellite X205 series which has a much higher price tag but has serious graphics power!
Pro:Good display, integrated web cam and mic, good looks (minus the Toshiba billboard logo).
Con:Keyboard keys are flat, speakers are a bit tinny, integrated gaphics on a 17” aren’t a blast, battery life isn’t long.
List Price: $1.199.99 for the P205-S6267. The Toshiba Satellite P200/205 series starts at $939.
Display:17” 1440 x 900 WXGA+ TruBrite widescreen TFT LCD. Supports 702p content natively. Shared graphics, Intel 950 8MB-256MB memory. (You can get dedicated graphics memory for extra money.)
Battery:Lithium Ion rechargeable, 4000mAh.
Performance:Intel Core Duo processor T2350 running at 1.86GHz, 2MB L2 cache, 533MHz FSB. 2 gig PC2-5300 DDR2 SDRAM with max capacity of 4GB.
Drives:120 gig serial ATA hard disk drive, 5400RPM. 9.5mm height, user removable. DVD SuperMulti (+/- R double layer) with Labelflash drive supporting 11 formats. (HD DVD is optional.)
Size: 15.7 x 11.3 x 1.42/1.83 inches. Weight: 7.2 pounds (depending on the configuration).
Camera:1.3 megapixel web camera.
Audio:Built-in stereo speakers, internal mic and external mic jack, 3.5mm standard headphone jack with SPDIF support.
Networking:Intel Wireless WiFi Link 4965 AGN (802.11a/g/n). 10/100 gigabit Ethernet and 56k modem.
Ports:Four USB 2.0 ports, 1 stereo headphone out with SPDIF digital audio, one 3.5mm mic-in, a card reader, an ExpressCard/54 slot, S-Video out and RGB port, consumer IR.
Software:Windows Vista Home Premium Operating System with options to upgrade. Microsoft Works 8.0, DVD burning software by Ulead, Adobe Acrobat Reader 8.0 and InterVideo WinDVD 8. Recovery software included. McAfee Security trial software and Microsoft Office trial software. Toshiba game and utility bundles.